Located in Southeast Utah, the North Fork of Road Canyon comes off Cedar Mesa and joins Road Canyon running east toward Comb Wash. Road Canyon is a popular place to find backcountry Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) sites and there are many possibilities for hikes into and around Road Canyon. Most of the guide books have extensive coverage of hiking in Road Canyon. On the other hand, the North Fork of Road Canyon is rarely visited and most of the available guidebooks say little if anything about the canyon.
Lime Canyon is located on Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah. Lime Creek begins at an elevation of 6,600 ft on the mesa top and quickly cuts into the rock layers. It creates a canyon that runs toward the southeast and drops to 4,150 ft where it joins the San Juan River less than 20 miles from its beginning.
Johns Canyon originates on top of Cedar Mesa at 6,600 ft. from there it slashes down through Cedar Mesa for about 12 miles until it reaches the San Juan River at 3,850 ft. There are three distinct sections of Johns Canyon. The upper section is typical Cedar Mesa canyon terrain. The middle stretch gets broad and flat with a road through it and the lower canyon entrenches again. While all sections have attractions, this article focuses on the upper section of the canyon.
Arch Canyon drains into upper Comb Wash in the northeast section of Cedar Mesa. It’s easy to get to and offers lots of hiking and exploring opportunities. As might be assumed from it’s name, several arches can be viewed in the Arch Canyon system. Lower Arch Canyon offers easy trails, Anasazi ruins and scenic hiking.
The Walnut Knob Petroglyphs are on an obvious geologic feature located in upper Comb Wash. The site is just below Comb Ridge north of UT 95, very close to the mouth of Arch Canyon. Walnut Knob is very prominent, sticking up from the rock slope it sits on. Being such an obvious feature, it’s not surprising that the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) were associated with it.
The Procession Panel is a well-known Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) petroglyph located just below the summit of Comb Ridge. Access is from San Juan County road #230 which runs the length of Butler Wash connecting UT 163 in the south to UT 95 in the north. The trailhead is about 7 miles north of UT 163 or 14 miles south of UT 95.
The eastern slopes of Comb Ridge were home to many Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi) and their predecessors. The entire area from the San Juan River north to the foothills of the Abajo Mountains was inhabited from the early hunter-gatherers to the cliff dwelling Anasazi of the Pueblo III period. These first residents left behind many cultural treasures ranging from large housing units to small lithic scatters. Wolfman Panel is a great example of the rock art that still exists.
The Butler Wash Ruins is a widely visited Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) site located off Highway 95 southwest of Blanding, UT. Although the ruin has not been restored, the area is partially developed. The Butler Wash Ruins access is well signed with the parking area right on the highway. There is a well-maintained 1/2 mile trail to a fenced observation point, complete with interpretive signs, that overlooks the ruins. The Butler Wash Ruins was once a small community and it’s a great place to see Anasazi ruins in a natural setting. Access to the observation area is easy but accessing the ruin is much more difficult and not encouraged by officials.
Target Ruin, sometimes called Bullseye Ruin, is an Anasazi cliff dweller ruin found in Upper Butler Wash on the eastern side of Comb Ridge. The hike to the Target Ruin is mostly very easy and access is simple as the trailhead is on the roadside of Utah 95. The hike is fairly short and this ruin can easily be visited and explored in a couple of hours or less. However, there are a number of nearby ruins in Upper Butler Wash and you will likely want to spend time really exploring the area. In particular, Ballroom Cave Ruin is nearby and very interesting.
Ballroom cave is an interesting Anasazi ruin found in Upper Butler Wash on the eastern side of Comb Ridge. The hike to Ballroom cave is mostly very easy and access is simple – you actually park on the roadside of Utah 95. The hike to Ballroom Cave is relatively short and this ruin can easily be visited and explored in a couple of hours or less. However, there are a number of nearby ruins in Upper Butler Wash and you’ll likely want to spend time really exploring the area. In particular, Target Ruin is nearby and very interesting.